On Saturday, November 30, 2013, the Ecumenical Patriarchate celebrated its Thronal Feast, the Feast of St. Andrew, First-Called of the Apostles, at the Patriarchal Church of St. George.
In accordance with the traditional practice of exchanging formal visitations with the Church of Rome, a delegation was sent by His Holiness Pope Francis to attend the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s Thronal Feast. The delegation, headed by Kurt Cardinal Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, arrived on Thursday, November 28, 2013. After being received by His All-Holiness on Friday morning, official conversations took place between the members of the delegation and the Synodal Committee for Dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church, whereafter the delegation also visited the Holy Theological School of Halki.
Many gathered for the occasion. Hierarchs of the Ecumenical Throne arrived a few days earlier for the November session of the Holy and Sacred Synod, during which the proposal of two new Orthodox saints were approved, Sts. Porphyrios Kafsokalyvitis and Meletios of Ypseni (Rhodes).
The Holy Synod also elected Bishop Athenagoras of Sinope as Metropolitan of Belgium. His All-Holiness presided over the Great Vespers service on Friday evening and the Divine Liturgy on Saturday morning. In addition to the consecration of Archimandrite Job (Getcha) as Archbishop of Telmessos and head of the Patriarchal Exarchate for Orthodox Parishes of the Russian Tradition in Western Europe, Fr. Bessarion of the Patriarchal Court was elevated to the office of Grand Archimandrite.
The Thronal festivities concluded with a concert by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America’s School of Byzantine Music at the historic Aya Irini, where in attendance were venerable Hierarchs of the Ecumenical Throne, the members of the Papal Delegation, distinguished diplomats, esteemed Archons of the Order of St. Andrew, and faithful from around the world.